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Can Cats Eat Clover? What You Need to Know!

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By Nicole Cosgrove

clover plant

Cats like to explore and sample just about anything they come across, including plants. While most cats are unlikely to eat a lot of plants, some are highly toxic for them, even in small doses.

Can cats eat clover? No, cats shouldn’t eat clover, due to its risk to their health. While the toxicity varies by the clover species, all clovers have the potential to cause adverse effects in cats in large enough amounts.

Clover Toxicity in Cats

Clover plants contain calcium oxalates, which embed themselves in the gastrointestinal tract. When they make their way to the kidneys, they can cause bladder stones and toxicity. Oxalate also binds to calcium and prevents absorption of the important mineral in your cat.

Symptoms of clover toxicity may include:

  • Pain
  • Inappetence
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody urine
  • Lethargy
  • Tremors
  • Changes in thirst and urine production
  • Kidney failure
Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

What Types of Clover Are Hazardous for Cats?

When most people think of a clover, they imagine shamrocks (the “good luck” plant). Shamrock also goes by the name of clover or wood sorrel. As part of the Oxalis family, shamrock has calcium oxalate that can be toxic to cats in high amounts. These compounds are found in every portion of the plant – not just the leaves.

If your cat ingests clover, it’s important to act quickly. Shamrock and other clover species can lead to significant gastrointestinal distress or kidney failure. If you notice your cat eating clover, or discover clover in its vomit or in your home, take your cat to the vet immediately to prevent any ill effects.

What Plants are Poisonous to Cats?

Many common plants are toxic for cats and may cause irritation of the skin, mouth, or stomach, organ damage, or other adverse effects.

orange cat sleeping in the garden
Image Credit: Gulsen Ozcan, Shutterstock

Here are some plants that are poisonous to cats:

  • Amaryllis
  • Autumn crocus
  • Azaleas
  • Castor bean
  • Chrysanthemum
  • Daisy
  • Mum
  • Rhododendrons
  • Hyacinth
  • Daffodils
  • English ivy
  • Kalanchoe
  • Lily
  • Oleander
  • Marijuana
  • Pothos
  • Sago palm
  • Spanish thyme
  • Tulip
  • Yew

Typically, a plant that’s poisonous to cats is the result of a compound or substance, which is present throughout the plant. Some plants have higher concentrations of toxic substances in leaves, stems, or petals, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

The toxic dose can vary by plant, plant part, and cat size as well, so don’t underestimate the effects if your cat had only a small amount. It’s important to watch for symptoms of toxicity.

cat in garden
Image credit:Piqsels

What are the Symptoms of Plant Poisoning?

Toxic plants can cause a variety of symptoms in cats, ranging from local skin irritation to serious organ or gastrointestinal distress. Here are some signs to look out for:

  • Swelling, redness, or itchiness to skin or mucous membranes
  • Stomach upset, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • Respiratory distress
  • Difficulty swallowing or drooling
  • Excessive thirst and urine production
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Weakness and lethargy
cat drinking water in the garden
Image Credit: Piqsels

What to Do If Your Cat Ingested a Toxic Plant

If your cat ate a plant that you believe may be poisonous, it’s important to take it to the vet as soon as possible. Remove all traces of the plant from your cat’s body and mouth, and crate your cat to monitor its condition.

The best way to help your vet treat your cat effectively is by identifying the plant. If possible, bring some of the plant with you in a plastic bag, or take a picture of the plant to identify it.

When you arrive, your vet will examine your cat and assess its overall health, which may include bloodwork and other tests. If the toxic plant affects organ systems, these tests can be vital to preventing serious symptoms.

Once your vet knows the type of plant or the organs it targets, they can prescribe medication to prevent toxicity. Your cat may have emetics to induce vomiting or activated charcoal to absorb the toxic substances in the plant as it passes through the digestive tract. Your vet will likely prescribe medications to support your cat and keep it comfortable, such as pain medication and IV fluids.

Depending on the amount ingested and the type of plant, your cat may make a full recovery. However, delayed treatment or highly toxic plants can do a lot of damage in a short time, so your cat may need permanent interventions and aftercare like medications or prescription diets. This may be short-term until the symptoms resolve, or for the rest of your cat’s life.

nebelung cat in vet clinic
Image Credit: Juice Flair, Shutterstock

Protect Your Cat from Clover

Clover is among the common toxic plants for cats. Though the toxicity and effects vary by the type of clover, no clover species is safe for your cat to ingest. If you suspect your cat ingested shamrock or another toxic plant, take it to the vet as soon as possible to prevent serious effects.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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